Your kidneys are important. They carry out essential roles within the body to keep you healthy, such as:
- Maintaining the balance of water and chemical constituents within the body
- Eliminating chemical waste
- Producing hormones and enzymes that assist bone formation, regulate blood pressure and stimulate the production of red blood cells
The importance of these vital organs is clear. However, seafarers continue to suffer from kidney-related illnesses.
Know the signs
The early stages of kidney conditions usually have no obvious symptoms and small stones often pass unnoticed. But more advanced conditions can prove to be fatal. It is therefore important to know the warning signs. This ensures that the appropriate treatment can be provided as soon as possible.
Such warning signs include:
- Painful urination – this can be caused by inflammation of the neck of the bladder due to infection, or kidney stones in the urinary passage
- Blood in the urine – this can result from kidney stones, an acute infection or even cancer. It must not be ignored!
- The need to urinate more frequently
- Weight loss
- Water retention causing facial puffiness or swelling of lower extremities and abdomen
- Lower back pain, sometimes felt in the groin
Keeping kidneys healthy
In order to prevent such conditions arising, The UK National Health Service has suggested the following five lifestyle steps to help your kidneys keep you healthy:
1. Stay hydrated
It is important that you drink plenty of fluids. This will help your kidneys function properly. If your urine is dark in colour, this may be a sign of dehydration. Remember that in hot conditions, or when exercising, you need to drink more water than usual to make up for the fluid lost by sweating.
2. Eat healthily
A balanced diet ensures you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Make sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and avoid eating too much salty or fatty food. A high protein, low fibre diet will increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
3. Check your blood pressure
Check your blood pressure regularly. High blood pressure has no symptoms, but it can increase your risk of kidney and heart problems. If your blood pressure is higher than it should be, your doctor should be able to suggest lifestyle changes or prescribe medication, if necessary.
4. Drink in moderation and don’t smoke
Try to stop smoking completely and limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Drinking too much alcohol and smoking both increase blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney disease.
5. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight raises your blood pressure, so try to maintain a healthy weight by keeping active and not overeating.
More advice on maintain a healthy body click here.